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How to Support Your Man Without Being Condescending

by Zora Hughes, studioD

When your boyfriend or husband gets unnaturally quiet, moody and distant, more than likely he's going through some sort of issue. Naturally, you want to throw your arms around your guy and do anything you can to make it better. However, there is a wrong and right way to offer support him. Bombarding him with questions and advice can come across as arrogant and patronizing. Striking a balance between providing encouragement and giving him space to figure things out is the best way you can show support to your man.

Be a good listener. Ask your guy if he is okay and tell him that you are there when he wants a listening ear. When he is ready to talk to you, just listen, without interrupting, allowing him to get all of his feelings off his chest.

Offer words of encouragement and confidence. Don't focus on the negative with things statements like "That sucks!" "I can't believe that!" or, "You don't deserve to be in that situation." Focus on being positive and boosting your man's confidence instead. For example, if he's stressed over his medical exams, you might say, "I know you can do this, honey. You've been studying so hard every single day. I believe in you."

Give him his space. Sometimes attempting to give a man a ton of support can be off-putting when he prefers space. In fact, being too helpful can send a message you think he is weak and can't handle things on his own, according to relationship expert and author Dr. Paul Coleman in an article for Cosmopolitan Magazine. If he says he needs to be alone, let him be alone and avoid bringing up the issue again unless he does.

Do not offer unsolicited advice or suggestions. Don't start listing ways to make things better or start doing things to help your man out if he did not ask you to. Assuming he wants and needs your help can come off as condescending. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology shows that marital satisfaction decreases when spouses give each other too much advice, especially when it is unsolicited. Just let him know you're there to help in any way he prefers.

Cheer him up. If your man hasn't asked for your help in dealing with the situation, you can still show him your support by trying to put a smile on his face. Surprise him with his favorite takeout when he's up late working or studying. Send a hilarious online video to his smart phone. If he has a day off, take his mind off of his problems by taking him out to do something fun, like going to an amusement park or somewhere relaxing, like a day spa.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

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